Our last day in Brussels we went to The Grand Place and the royal palace. The Grand Place is the original central square of Brussels and a UNESCO world heritage site. The Grand Place began as an open air market in the 11th century. By the 13th century a few indoor markets existed which allowed buyers and sellers to conduct their business even in bad weather. But it wasn't until the 14th century that the square was formally established and some of the larger buildings were constructed.
The town hall . . .
. . . complete with gargoyles!
I couldn't help but look around and imagine what this place was like a few hundred years ago. With the square full of people, I think it might have been very much the same. Now, instead of merchants industrially buying and selling their wares, tourists are busily visiting the shops and restaurants. Relatively nearby The Grand Place is the royal palace. It isn't used as a place of residence. Instead, it's used for state functions and each year, the royal palace is opened to the public.
What you see when you first walk in. How's that for an entry!
Chandeliers and gold gilding everywhere.
I've never seen anything like this before. The ceiling and one of the three chandeliers have been covered with the wing cases of jewel beetles. A little creepy, but really amazing when they reflect the light.
So I'm a bit sad this is my last day in Brussels. I know I haven't even come close to seeing everything and I've had so much fun, I don't want it to end. At the same time, I know it will be wonderful to be back home. I've been thinking that travel is a bit like childbirth. You forget all the pain (sore feet and blisters from miles of walking) and inconvenience (jet lag, long lines and crowds during the height of tourist season) and only remember the good stuff. I know I'll never forget this trip.